Senate Bill Introduced Pushing $50 Million for Rural Broadband

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Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) has introduced into the U.S. Senate a bill that would establish a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, managed by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), that makes funding available for broadband projects in tribal, low-income, and remote rural areas. The Community Connect Grant Program Act (S.2654) would modify the existing USDA Community Connect Program, which is designed to target areas lacking in broadband. According to a press release from Sen. Smith’s office, her new bill would: (1) provide grants to construct, acquire, or lease facilities -including spectrum, land, or buildings – to deploy broadband service; (2) modernize minimum speed service to coordinate with the FCC and keep pace with 21st Century needs; and (3) provide essential community facilities, like fire stations and public schools, with service for up to two years. S.2654, which would authorize RUS to release an additional $50 million per fiscal year to fund these projects, has no co-sponsors as of now.

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